Oh the Scavenger Hunts I Love

IMG_5507A game of searching for something you want.
Or maybe it’s the journey that counts…

 

I love Scavenger hunts! Scavenger hunts can be Indoors or outdoors, Individual or team, require set up or not, materials and tools, or not, simple or complex. Themes, location, ages, numbers and goals all play a role in choosing the scavenger hunt of your dreams. There are so many kinds, but here are 4 of my favorite scavenger hunts for parties:

 

  1. Clue to Clue – in this kind of scavenger hunt individuals or small teams are sent from clue to clue with rhymes or puzzles, each clue sending the players on a journey to the next clue and eventually the final prize. I especially like to sprinkle in puzzles that reveal where to go next when solved, and hint at the story of the mystery itself. The participants can be almost any age, but must be readers or have a reader with them. The beauty of this style of hunt is that clues can be made simple for younger kids and really complex and challenging for older kids and adults. This kind of hunt is the foundation for our Mystery Party, a super challenging hunt to write and plant, but really tremendous fun.

 

  1. Web Hunt – This crazy fun hunt works well for ages 4 – 8, especially when you have a small prize to give. Tie a ribbon to the prize and have the participants follow the ribbon all around a room or area, under and over furniture and through other ribbons to find the goodie. Imagine a room filled with a web of ribbons, all leading to little animals or candies and all of the party kids following their ribbons through the web to find them. I call this hunt a “Spiderman Web Hunt” at a Super Hero Party or a “French Poodle Hunt” in an Around the World party. I just used this at a Harry Potter Party and called it the “Care of Magical Creatures” Class!

 

  1. Information Hunt and Photo Hunt – These two kinds of hunts can be each be on their own, but I like them together. Imagine sending small groups (3 to 6 people) with a list of information needed and pictures they must take to prove they found something. I have used this hunt as a fun challenge to help the players get to know a school or church. This kind of hunt can also be very competitive. I have a party called Extreme Home Survivor which is mostly a challenge photo hunt, and very recently, I ran hunts that were heavier on the information side for a New Student Event and a Confirmation Group hunt.

 

  1. Egg Hunt – This is the best kind of hunt for the littlest players, where they search for prizes hidden in an indoor area like a family room, or outside, like the back yard. I use this hunt to create a little running around time and its always filled with excitement and delight. My favorite way to introduce this kind of hunt is to tie it to a story where they have to go searching for something in the story. I hide Frogs or Pumpkins for my Royal Party and Shells for the Hawaiian Hula Luau.

 

There are certainly more kinds of hunts out there and I recommend you give them a whirl whenever possible! I would love to hear about your favorite hunts, so please comment below and share your fun ideas!

Birthdays at the Holidays – The challenge of sharing your special day

 My friend Nicole has her birthday on Thanksgiving. Why must she share  her birthday with a turkey? How can we make our kids’ birthdays special,  or even remembered, when the rest of the world enjoys a different special  moment. Jonathan has it even worse with a December 25th birthday. He  only gets one present a year while his big sister has two days of receiving  gifts. Jonathan and Nicole can’t even have a friend filled birthday party  because their friends have to travel or have family obligations during the  holidays. It’s not fair!

Not only is it hard on the birthday boy or girl, it’s hard on the family. As a  busy parent who knows the importance of celebrating my wonderful child  on his or her special day, I know it can be hard to focus and give the  attention to the planning needed during this crazy busy season. Nicole  claims she didn’t have an actual birthday party until she was 10!

Sure, when the kids are young, it might not be such a big deal to share a birthday when there is so much joy, family, and celebration. They might actually get multiple parties! My Grandfather who shared his birthday with the 4th of July had us all convinced the fireworks were just for him. The notoriety of being a New Year Baby or having a spooky Halloween birthday can actually be fun…. but only for a while.

Here are three things you can do for those people you love, big and small, who share birthdays with major holidays.

  1. Make sure to create a special birthday tradition that is just for them. Make chocolate chip happy face pancakes on the morning of her birthday, special even when there is Christmas dinner that night. How about a special shopping trip for a birthday gift, or a visit to the aquarium. In my family every person gets to pick their dinner restaurant on the night (or close to the night) of their birthday, even when it’s holiday vacation and we are traveling out of town.
  2. Keep the birthday distinct and allow time and space for other themes. Halloween themed birthday parties every year will get stale. Make room for Super Heroes, and Harry Potter, Cooking, and American Doll themed parties.
  3.  Move the party to a new date to avoid direct conflicts and vacations so that friends can attend and celebrate. Missing friends is the biggest hardship I hear from Holiday Birthday kids. The party doesn’t have to be on the actual birthday, so move it for maximum celebration! Mom and Dad birthday planners will appreciate this too.

Let me know how you handle the holiday birthdays in your life. What are your frustrations and solutions? Reply here or on Facebook!

Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween

Halloween is a great reason to celebrate, and a wonderful spirited “kickoff celebration” to the entire American holiday season.  Halloween is so much fun with costumes, candy, and parties… I have lots of friends, clients, and acquaintances that can’t get enough of this crazy spooky festival!

How about you? Are you a decorator and put lights, cobwebs, blow-ups, and grave stones all over your yard? Maybe you just love to carve or decorate a pumpkin or two. Do you spend the year concocting scary treats and candy goodies to bring to school or pass out to neighborhood kids? Are you the crafty parent who loves creating amazing costumes from fabric and clothes hangers or maybe you scour the web with your kids, or just take them to Party City? How much fun is this holiday!

There are lots of ways to celebrate, with kids and with adult friends. My tradition has been to help my kids create their own costume ideas (trips to several stores and makeup support), carve a few Jack-o-lanterns to illuminate, and cook up a storm. My kids love my homemade green mac-and-cheese, and my adult friends have always loved my stew baked in a pumpkin and my famous hot mulled wine. We lived on one of these Halloween crazy streets for years in Chicago, and after the 14 huge bags of candy was gone, adults and kids would come inside for candy trading and feasting. My kids are bigger now, and we live on a quieter street, but we are still outside for the block party with a cauldron of green mac-and-cheese and my coffee taurine filled with the hot mulled wine… traditions I can’t resist!

What are your traditions? What’s fun for you? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook!

Keep the celebrations coming, and be sure to get a running start and a big leap for this “gateway” holiday for the season!

Curse You, Pinterest!

The Parties You Can Do Are The Parties You Should Do

Have you tried to plan a party with Pinterest? They make it look so easy, don’t they? Your child imagines a perfect theme, or you imagine a perfect party for your child, and you head over to one of the best places for beautiful ideas: Pinterest. A few clicks, and you see your whole vision is possible. Not only possible, amazing, outstanding, even fantastic! All of your paper goods match and are enhanced, the theme is present in every detail of the delicious food selections, center pieces coordinate, perfect colors in perfect lighting, perfect fonts, and best of all, the over reaching coordination is breathtaking. Each picture is better than the next and pretty soon your head is swimming with possibilities. All you need? A color printer, raffia string the shade of turquoise blue, a Wilton tip, and a hot glue gun. That’s all.

Yup, they make it look so easy. But we know it’s not. It’s overwhelming, even intimidating.  And an hour of clicking around later, you need a nap. At this point in the process, you are thinking of ways to get out of it.

Pinterest ruined you. The fantasy of “Martha” ruined the possibility of fun. If it wasn’t so exhausting, you might even be angry!

Well, it’s time to take back the fun, take back the party. Look for your ideas on line, but don’t let yourself get sucked into the vortex of perfection and appearances. Those Pinterest pictures are for someone who had much more time on their hands and a much better glue gun. Don’t let them scare you away, that stuff may be nice dressing, but the main course is what you can actually put on the plate without killing yourself. Don’t let them scare you off, forcing you to give up on the party, you can do this.

Stay away from the perfectly coiffed table setting and don’t be lured by the overlyIMG_1413 themed recipes. If it requires you to quit your day job and risk personal injury, it’s not necessary. Focus on your child, focus on the activity, and focus on the fun. If you need help with any of these, just give us a call, we are always available for a free party strategy session, and we promise to be less scary and way more fun than Pinterest.

The 3 Most Important Places to Spend Your Money

Olivia and pink pig1Most people plan their child’s party within a budget, and no matter how big or small your particular budget is, you have to make a decision about what is worthy of your attention and resources and what can go with less. I’ve simplified this to three elements I think you should spend your money and effort on, to get the most bang for your buck.

I have experienced many kinds of parties on many different budgets. I have been to parties with modest spending, and parties with no limits, and this is consistently true: If these three spend-worthy items are skimped on, the party will be impacted negatively. If these items are considered, and taken care of, the party will hold greater pleasure for children and parents alike.

No matter the ultimate size of your budget, this is where your money should go:

  1. Fun

A great place to focus your party budget is the main event. Whether you are creating crafts or games or hiring entertainment, the thing that engages the guests at the party is worth the most investment. Really good entertainment that fits your child is worth every penny. If you are having an entertainer or bringing in an activity, get something or someone super engaging. If you are having crafts for the kids, you can be more economical by making sure those crafts do double duty as part of a game or part of the goodie bag. If the party is more game based, then the items you purchase for the game or its prizes can be awesome take home items. Don’t make a beautiful extravagant tablescape, but leave nothing for the children to do during the party. Spend on the engaging activities; it makes the party fun and memorable!

  1. Food

So important! What you serve matters, and do not leave kids hungry! If you don’t want to spend as much money on food, then do not plan your party over meal time. If your party is planned over a meal time, it is imperative that you feed your guests – nothing can kill a party faster than hungry children. It is possible to keep it simple: bagels or sandwiches for lunch, or pizza, if it makes it easy and it’s what your child likes. I think themed food is always a fun addition to a party and worth a little more expense. Serving hot dogs at a Puppy Party is really cute (have you made puppy chow snacks? Yum!), making monster faced pizzas at Halloween, really fun. Consider a food craft like cookie decorating that can double as dessert. Finally, the cake should be special too, no matter whether you buy your themed cake from your favorite bakery, the grocery store or make it yourself, make sure it’s pretty, delicious, and there is enough to go around.

  1. Help

If you need help, then admit it, and hire it. If food is a challenge for you, purchase already made items or hire a caterer.  If getting the house in shape is a stressor, pay your kids to help you straighten the house or hire a cleaning service for before and/or after. If you need extra hands for the crafts, hire a babysitter to be a helper.  Find someone to help you stay relaxed and have fun, it’s worth the money. A stressed Mom is never ever good for a party.

These three items are not only spend worthy, they are critical to an impactful and memorable party for your child. No matter what your budget is, prioritize your party elements to make sure you get the important things taken care of, and if there is money left, there are lots of wonderful ways to spend it!

Call us any time for a free party strategy session. We are happy to help you think through the elements, and most happy to work with you to plan an amazing event with all the fun food and help provided by Have A Bashery!

The Goody Bag Dilemma

The bird houses they built because the goody Bag
The bird houses they built became the Goody Bag

Goody Bag is defined as small bag containing candy, little toys, and other prizes, handed out as a thank you gift to guests at a children’s party. I would like to add this to the definition: A major source of stress and annoyance for parents and children when preparing for said party.

What should you put in the goody bag? How much should you spend? Will it be remembered, used, adored, or just eaten or thrown away? You could lose sleep over these questions!

Love it or hate it, it’s a party tradition. Traditions like blowing out candles, singing Happy Birthday, and eating cake are signature elements of a birthday party and so is the birthday party goody bag. I’m Sorry. It cannot be ignored, but it can be managed. It can be managed by making sure it fits your style, interests, beliefs, and values, just like the party itself.

If you don’t like the cheap plastic toys that break even before they get home, don’t buy them. If you care about the dental health of children, don’t include gummy candy. If play dough has plagued your home in the past, don’t send it home to others. My favorite goody bag components not only match the host family in style, but also fit the party itself.

My feeling is, if you can’t fight the goody bag tradition, you can make it part of the party – the things the children make, do, or find during the party that you are already planning. Consider giving a book at a birthday that features a story teller.  Use the craft from the party as the goody bag. How about making an apron, cooking tools and recipes from a cooking party the gift to go home? How about sending home the decorated pillow cases the children made at the slumber party – add a sleeping mask and a flashlight if you want to make the bag more substantial? Or keep it simple.

Keeping the goody bag as part of the party is the best way to keep it under control. With this approach, the expense is often part of the cost of the party, and the contents already fit the child’s interests, and the values of the family. Don’t worry about size or extravagance, amount of stuff, or the bag itself, just make it fit the party.

RSVP – Why Bother?

There is some debate in the party community about how to deal with the RSVP. Some invitations give phone numbers, emails, dates to respond by, others ask for regrets only, or don’t specify at all. What is the proper etiquette?
The party host should specify the information they need to run a successful party. The invitee should reply as asked. It’s that simple.
if you are the person hosting the party, ask for exactly what you need. If you need an exact number 5 days in advance, then ask. Specify how to best contact you, and give a reply date. Do follow up if you don’t hear. Do not follow up/call/badger for more information or earlier information than you requested. A tie dye or a cooking party, for which materials are being ordered or created for exact numbers, require knowledge of who is coming. A magician party or a rental blow-up play house does not need an exact count. Be realistic, ask because you need the information. The reason I suggest a follow up call? Not only might you require the information, but sometimes that call can catch a lost or miss-mailed invitation.
If you are the recipient of an invitation with an RSVP, PLEASE RESPOND as requested. Do not apply your own philosophy to the situation. I had a Mom once tell me that she never responds as a policy, she believes in regrets only. Well, good for her, but its not what the host wanted or needed. It is not too much to ask to be considerate!
Finally, always include in your response if you will be late or need to leave early… again, it’s just polite!
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